Raven Symone started out as the cute toddler on The Cosby Show and grew into a beautiful young woman with her own hit Disney Channel sitcom, Thatís So Raven, a recording career, and movies like The Princess Diaries 2, and TVís Cheetah Girls. But while Raven is one of the most popular young actresses in Hollywood, Raven-Symone Christina Pearman wasnít popular while growing up Atlanta, Georgia. She shared these memories with IML, and also told us some revealing things about her life, career, and personal philosophy.
IML: How are you different from the Raven we see on TV? How are you similar?
Raven: Raven Baxter is so excited and happy and kind of crazy, and Iím not that way. If you find me on one of my off days, Iím probably asleep at my house. I mind my own business, I kind of stay to myself. The ways weíre similar? We both love fashion. But Iíll wear sweats to anything if Iím allowed to.
IML: Do you have any favorite Thatís So Raven episodes?
Raven: I really like the episode where I played the plumber. And thereís an episode called ďCountry CousinsĒ where I played three characters in the same room together. It was actually very challenging; you have to remember everything you did with the character so you can react the right way. It showed me that I love to do this kind of work.
IML: Are you friends with the rest of the cast? Do you hang out off screen?
Raven: We are friends. We hung out a lot more the first and second season when we werenít all that busy and the show was just starting up. Now we donít hang out as much but thereís still love for us all. Weíll help each other, like a family does.
IML: If you could have any other power, what would it be?
Raven: To be an alchemist -- to turn things into gold!
IML: Youíve been acting since you were three years old. Do you ever feel like youíve missed out on anything?
Raven: Nope. I went to public school, elementary through high school. I went to homecoming, to football games, pep rallies, I got detention, I got an F. Iíve done it all.
IML: An F! What subject was that in?
Raven: Algebra. Thatís because I was out on tour and my math teacher didnít send me my work. But I went to summer school and I got an A in the class. The only time I got bad grades was when the work got lost in the mail.
IML: What are your memories of middle school?
Raven: The cheerleaders eyeing me up and down in the hallway, everywhere I went. We didnít get along.
IML: Did you have trouble with bullies back then?
Raven: Yeah. Letís just say that I donít take bullying for too long. I retaliate after a while. I kill them with kindness for as long as possible until they hit that button, and thenÖhereís my thing: when I went to school I was really nice to everyone. It wasnít my fault that people didnít like me. Before I started at the school, the principal came on the intercom and said, ďWe have a new student. She was on The Cosby Show and Hanging with Mr. Cooper, and if you ask for her autograph youíll get detention.Ē The whole school thought that I was the one that told him to say that. I get there and thereíd be people eyeing me before they even knew me. So I would stick to myself. I wasnít that popular.
IML: That must have been rough!
Raven: Yes, it was. So I sat with what they called the outcasts -- they werenít really outcasts, they just werenít popular. We sat in the lunchroom together. After like four years people did warm up to me, but there would always be some people who, if I didnít talk to them, would be like, ďYouíre acting that way because youíre on television.Ē Iím like, ďYou donít know me, so donít pull out that card!Ē Itís not cool, because Iím not like that. If I wasnít on television Iíd be the same person.
IML: What were the good things about school? Did you have any great teachers?
Raven: I did. I was kind of a nerd and I actually enjoyed my teachers a lot more than I enjoyed the people. My favorites were Miss Yost in 8th grade and Miss Maxwell, my homeroom teacher. Actually, after all those years, she came to Disney World and saw me perform. It was a total surprise and it was great.
IML: Who are your role models?
Raven: Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson. No matter what problems they go through, you canít overlook their talent.
IML: Do you think the media puts too much pressure on kids to look a certain way?
Raven: Yes, definitely.
IML: How can kids, especially young girls, resist that pressure?
Raven: Itís very hard. Itís years and years of images in their faces of what youíre supposed to be. Youíre supposed to have blonde hair, perfect skin, all this stuff to get a guy or have success in the world, and itís very hard to get out of that. Itís important for young people to know that they are made the way they are made and theyíre beautiful and thatís how theyíre supposed to be. Everyone goes through that stage of having acne or their haircut not being right. But donít stress, donít try to copy someone else because then you wonít be yourself and you wonít be happy. You have to look inside yourself to find who youíre supposed to be. You can take things from other people -- I love Janet Jackson, so I might take her style, but I would never change my whole body or self to be like her. That would mean I was unhappy with myself. You have to realize that even people who are in magazines and on television are probably more insecure than you are, because theyíre getting pressure from the people who sign their checks. You have to stay strong.
IML: How do you handle it?
Raven: I say, ďIím happy with who I am and Iím not going to kill myself to make you happy.Ē Then they realize, ďSheís really comfortable with herself.Ē When I was younger there was no one on television who looked like me and I had no one to look up to. It wasnít fair, because Iím pretty too. Iím beautiful just how I am, no matter if Iím a size 2 or a size 12. There are shows on television that are showing kids that you have to have plastic surgery to be beautiful and I think thatís a really bad message. Kids watch that stuff and the younger you are, the more you believe it and want to do it. There are a lot of people out there that are not a size 2 and itís not fair when they go to a store and they think theyíre fat.
In Part Two, Raven talks about show business, hobbies, and her plans for the future.
Read more about young celebrities in Celebs Say....
E-mail this page to a friend